Why I Read Science Fiction


Why don’t I just write about what’s real? A lot of twentieth-century— and twenty-first-century—American readers think that that’s all they want. They want nonfiction. They’ll say, I don’t read fiction because it isn’t real. This is incredibly naive. Fiction is something that only human beings do, and only in certain circumstances. We don’t know exactly for what purposes. But one of the things it does is lead you to recognize what you did not know before.

This is what a lot of mystical disciplines are after—simply seeing, really seeing, really being aware. Which means you’re recognizing the things around you more deeply, but they also seem new. So the seeing-as-new and recognition are really the same thing.


Could you elaborate on this idea just a little?


Not adequately! I can only muddle at it. A very good book tells me news, tells me things I didn’t know, or didn’t know I knew, yet I recognize them— yes, I see, yes, this is how the world is. Fiction—and poetry and drama— cleanse the doors of perception.

All the arts do this. Music, painting, dance say for us what can’t be said in words. But the mystery of literature is that it does say it in words, often straightforward ones.

Read the full interview: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Art of Fiction No. 221 – Interviewed by John Wray

*Hat tip to Longreads for making me aware of this interview.


Freedom of Speech Online

I’m really proud to work for a company that stands up for freedom of speech, fighting against those who try to unfairly silence others. Sometimes the issues that come up are negative and even scary: hatred, racism, objectification, death. Those can be hard, especially if you personally disagree with what’s being said even as you defend the right to say it.

But sometimes they are just ludicrous, like this trademark case:

Why is it called “Mean-Spirited Censorship Pie”? You can check out the recipe to find out! :)

You can also find out about more companies trying to unfairly censor the internet in the EFF Takedown Hall of Shame.

Why I Support Abortion Clinics

In Mississippi, there is only one clinic where a woman can go if she needs an abortion. The state is trying to close it down. At that clinic, there is a doctor who tends to the needs of these women, and he has to fly in from out of state to do it. There is no shutting him down.

Dr. Willie Parker heads down to Mississippi regularly to take care of women because no doctors living in the state are willing to help them. While some women have the resources to get treatment elsewhere, for many women this clinic (the only one left in Mississippi) is all they have.

The Antis, who call themselves pro-life, don’t seem to care that before Roe v. Wade, hundreds of women a year died trying to terminate their own pregnancy or from an illegal abortion, a disproportionate number of them minorities.

I’m pro-choice. I fully support women’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies and reproductive health. In some cases, that decision is to get an abortion — and women deserve a safe place to get them.

In 2012, America’s teenage girls had an average of thirty-one births per one thousand. In Canada, the number was fourteen. In France, six. In Sweden, seven. The difference is that those countries promote contraception without shame.

If the US weren’t so shaming about sex, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need. If domestic violence weren’t so rampant, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need. If being a mother didn’t derail a woman’s career or result in income instability, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need. But the need is there, and denying it doesn’t solve any of the problems a woman faces when she becomes unexpectedly pregnant.

One in three women will have an abortion by the time she’s forty-five, he tells them. “Y’all talk about your shoes, you talk about where you work, where you bought your dress, but y’all ain’t going to say, ‘Oh girl, when did you have your abortion?’ So I’m saying that if you are sitting in a room full of women, the only person you can really be sure about having an abortion is you. And you got to be comfortable with you.”

Dr. Parker’s work is inspiring not just because he makes it possible for these women to manage their health and their lives, but also because of how he listens to them, speaks with them, and cares for them as people. It’s a moving story, and I encourage you to read the whole thing: The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker